Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Hartwell- Our Heart Hero

Michael and I are beyond excited to welcome a new member to our family this spring. Baby Hartwell is scheduled to join us around April 15, 2012. We've decided to keep it's gender a surprise, and can't wait to find out if it's a boy or girl! We've recently learned that Baby Hartwell has a chronic heart disorder, and we will be using this blog to keep all of our amazing friends and family up to date.
On December 7th, Mike and I went to my regular 21 week appointment, thrilled to get to see our baby for the first time on the ultrasound. The tech was very nice, and mentioned that the baby was being stubborn, and she couldn't get a good picture of the right side of the heart. My obgyn Dr. De Vries then came in, and also tried to get some additional pictures. I received a phone call the next day from Dr. De Vries when he informed me that after re-looking at a few of the pictures, he thought the right side of the baby's heart looked a bit "small" and had gone ahead and set up an appointment with us to meet with Dr. Danford, a pediatric cardiologist specialist at Childrens Hospital Omaha on January 6th. Mike and I tried to not assume the worst, but just that they couldn't get a "good" picture.
We met with Dr. Danford on the 6th and learned that Baby Hartwell has Pulmonary Atresia and Hypoplastic Right Heart Syndrome. More or less, blood is unable to pass through the pulmonary artery due to lack of pulmonary valvues and an underdeveloped right ventricle of it's heart. We've learned that HRHS is rare, and most information and cases are usually Hypoplastic LEFT Heart Syndrome. Dr. Danford was able to draw us a "map" of Baby Hartwell's heart, and also describe the surgeries he/she will have.
At this point, we've been told I'll have a "normal" delivery at Methodist Women's Hospital (plus about 20+ people, specialists, etc in the room I'm guessing LOL). The baby will be immediately stabilized and transferred to Children's Hospital. Mike will go with the baby until I can be released. It will  be given a drug to keep one of it's valves open temporarily. It will undergo open heart surgery within it's first week. This procedure is to put in a shunt, which will direct blood to the lungs.
Baby Hartwell will undergo it's second open heart surgery at age 4-6 months. At this time they will be doing a procedure called a "Glenn" which will replace the shunt that the baby will have out-grown.
It's third open heart surgery will be around age 2, where they will finalize the process by doing a "Fontan" operation.
Each of these procedures is incredibly scary. Baby Hartwell will never have a "normal" heart, but instead function on a single ventricle heart, where the left side will do all of the pumping for both sides. The first two surgeries are designed to temporarily relieve blood flow to and from the lungs. The third surgery is to improve overall circulation. The procedures do not cure the defects, but rather re-routes the blood flow around the defective areas. 
As unlucky as this may all seem, we are very lucky for several reasons. One of those is the fact that we live so close to a town where we have access to a wonderful team of physicians who are dedicated to the care of patients with heart disease. We are also very lucky that the Children’s Hospital in Omaha has surgeons who perform surgeries on babies born with heart defects. So, with all of this said, I have decided to start a blog. We feel so grateful to have our family and friends. It is during times like this, we realize how truly blessed we are. We can’t thank each of you enough for your prayers and support thus far. My hope is for this blog to keep each of you updated on my pregnancy and updated on Baby Hartwell's progress. I'll update with additional posts that explain the exact defects Baby Hartwell has.

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